How To Choose An Affiliate Network

How To Choose An Affiliate Network

If you are about to start your affiliate marketing journey, you might be wondering how and where to start your journey as an affiliate marketer.

With the affiliate marketing industry getting bigger by the day, more and more brands are choosing to partner with affiliate marketers to grow their sales and revenue.

This has given rise to a new kind of intermediary that bridges the gap between affiliate marketers (publishers) and brands (merchants) – affiliate networks.

While as a blogger with a goal to monetize your passion, you can always sign up for affiliate programs that are managed in-house (i.e. affiliate programs that are not part of any affiliate network), joining an affiliate network has its own set of advantages.

In fact, a vast majority of affiliate marketers, bloggers, and social media heroes prefer affiliate networks over in-house affiliate programs owing to a variety of reasons.


Affiliate Network – What Is It?

Affiliate networks help wannabe affiliate marketers like you to connect easily to merchants from different affiliate marketing verticals.

By signing up as a publisher on an affiliate network, you will not only get to access a huge pool of merchants, but you can also get access to a variety of necessary tools, such as creatives, tracking links, analytics, etc.

While an array of businesses works directly with affiliate marketers to grow their referral sales, most affiliate marketers, especially beginners, choose to join affiliate networks to browse through partnership offers and opportunities that are completely legit and verified.

That being said, should you just join any affiliate network? Of course not. Like in every industry, there are the good, the bad, and the evil in the affiliate marketing industry. Before joining an affiliate network, you need to take into consideration a few factors.


Why Should You Compare And Review Affiliate Networks?

You are probably going to find a wide selection of networks online.

Remember that scams aside, reporting on certain affiliate networks can be clunky and time-consuming. Therefore, you should look at a few factors while choosing an affiliate network. Here’s how you can compare affiliate networks.


What Verticals Are Covered Well?

If you have a passion for something and you have a blog or YouTube channel, you might want to explore merchants who have products to offer that are aligned with your passion and areas of interest.

Therefore, you need to first find out which affiliate marketing verticals are covered well by which affiliate networks.

For example, Rakuten Marketing verticals include but are not limited to health, e-commerce, travel, hotel, gaming, fashion, whereas a majority of the active merchants on the Impact Radius platform are coupon, loyalty, rewards and cashback sites, and other types of e-commerce businesses.

Many affiliate networks offer verticalized expertise to their publisher members, which is an added plus.


Which Region Are You Based In?

While almost all the major affiliate networks operate globally, coverage (in terms of the number of advertisers or merchants) massively varies by region.

For example, AWIN is extremely popular as a network in the UK. The network is already being used by 1,500 small and medium enterprises in the UK. In 2019, the network helped these SMEs businesses drive £1 billion from referral sales alone.

Rakuten Network, on the other hand, is more of a US-focused network, although you can find plenty of merchants from other regions on this network.


What Is The Cost Of Joining?

Many affiliate networks are free to join, whereas few of the top-flight networks ask for a small fee from both publishers and advertisers for opening an account with them. This is usually the cost of a technical setup.

Signing up with Commission Junction, a top affiliate network which has got 3000+ active merchants, would not cost you a single cent, for example.


Who Are The Advertisers?

While a number of big brands now have their own networks or in-house affiliate management systems (Amazon Associates, for example, has one of the most intricate proprietary affiliate management systems), the majority of the big brands still rely on affiliate networks to foster their business relationships with their affiliate partners.

From TripAdvisor to Ibotta to Reebok, some of the biggest brands across different industry segments rely on the biggest affiliate networks to run their affiliate programs.

You need to check out first which advertisers are signed up with which networks. Is the brand you are looking to promote on any of the networks you are comparing right now?


How Will Your Account Be Managed?

You need to check out the tracking and reporting capabilities of an affiliate network before signing up. Do they provide transaction reports? Can you get access to real-time data and analytics? Will you get your data feeds via FTP and API?

Always choose a network that offers cross-device analytics, flexible APIs, and various content monetization options.

Top affiliate networks also offer deep-linking tools, branded interface, cross-device tracking, and automated payment processing to their publisher members.


How Will You Get Paid?

Affiliate networks would require you to at least have a bank account to get paid.

The available payment methods available with most affiliate networks are ACH, Wire Transfer, PayPal, Check, etc.

However, it is most likely that you need to reach the minimum payment threshold to get paid by the network. Payment thresholds vary from one network to another and if you want faster payouts, you should look for networks with a lower minimum payment threshold.

Read more about payment thresholds and why you should care about it here.


How Good Is The Customer Support?

If you are new to affiliate marketing, you would most likely need some technical support to get started on an affiliate network. Therefore, choose from affiliate networks that offer excellent technical support.

You need to check out how easily you can get in touch with the customer support department of an affiliate network.

ShareASale telephonic support, for example, is available Monday to Friday 0900 hours to 1800 hours Central Time. You can actually call them up to talk to a support executive. Read network reviews written by other affiliate marketers to know how effective the customer support services of different networks are.


Final Thoughts

Which affiliate network can help you become a Super Affiliate? Well, there’s no short answer to this question. There are some networks that offer great reporting and tracking, intuitive user interface, and fast turnaround on payments, whereas there are some other networks that offer full transparency along with great customer support. Choose a network that best fits your affiliate business objectives.

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